Democrats in and out of the media are crying foul over what they see as a nefarious Bush White House plot to artificially bump up its standing by rewriting a report from general David Petraeus on the state of things in Iraq.
Trouble is, the administration is required by law to write it:
In the past few weeks we've heard that the White House won't let Petraeus speak. Then we've heard that he'll only provide input to the September 15th Benchmark report, and the White House will then spin that.
I had the opportunity today to talk with a DoD Legislative Affairs expert who went over the law itself.
The law is the Supplemental Appropriations Law (Public Law 110-28, "U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007") which funds the war in Iraq. Within that law are various reports which are mandated. For instance, Section 13-14 mandates the Benchmark report, which is to be submitted on the 15th of the month, by the President. It will, of course, have DoD and State Department input and cover the 18 benchmarks outlined in the law. But again, the law requires the President submit the report, not Gen. Petraeus and not Abm. Crocker.
From the law:
(A) The President shall submit an initial report, in classified and unclassified format, to the Congress, not later than July 15, 2007, assessing the status of each of the specific benchmarks established above, and declaring, in his judgment, whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is, or is not, being achieved.
(B) The President, having consulted with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the Commander of U.S. Central Command, will prepare the report and submit the report to Congress. [...]
Last, but not least, there is no "Petraeus report" due. That's not to say we're not going to hear from Gen. Petraeus. But the law mandates no written report from him or Amb. Crocker. What it does mandate, however, is that Petraeus and Crocker deliver an assessment via testimony to the Congress prior to the Sept. 15th benchmark report to be delivered by the WH. And they will indeed do that in both open and closed session.
In short, none of the spin you're hearing in the media is based on fact. The White House is supposed to write the report and Petraeus will testify before congress. I wonder, though, whether any Democrats will show since last time Petraeus testified before Congress, neither Nancy Pelosi nor Jack Murtha, chair of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee bothered to show up.
Don't tell that to Bob Schieffer, though. He's still stuck in his rabbit hole.